Musharraf bailout: Saudi royal laughs off exit deal reports

Published: January 8, 2014
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The Saudi foreign minister with PM’s adviser Sartaj Aziz at a joint press conference. PHOTO: AFP

The Saudi foreign minister with PM’s adviser Sartaj Aziz at a joint press conference. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal laid to rest speculation on Tuesday that he was in Pakistan to secure a safe exit for former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, who is facing a treason trial for abrogating the constitution.

Appearing at a joint news conference with Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad, the seasoned Saudi diplomat laughed off a question about a possible deal being brokered by his country.

“Absolutely not. I’ve just talked about the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, especially friendly countries,” he said when asked if he was ‘on a mission’ to bail Musharraf out of his predicament.

“I won’t call it a ‘mission’. I’ll call it a visit to a brotherly and friendly country. This visit has taken a long time now in the making,” he said, dismissing reports linking his trip to the possible developments in Musharraf’s trial.

Prince Saud al Faisal – who is the first high-ranking Saudi official to visit Pakistan in years – met President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and held formal talks with Sartaj Aziz.

His visit had earlier triggered speculation that Riyadh was making back-channel efforts to secure safe passage for the former military ruler. The Saudis had played an instrumental role in securing a safe exit for Nawaz Sharif when his government was toppled by then army chief Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup.

The Saudi foreign minister said he was in Pakistan to deliver a message of ‘friendship and cooperation’ from King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.

Although publicly both sides denied discussions on the fate of Musharraf, sources suggested that the Saudi visitor did advise the government to avoid any internal conflict that could destabilise the country.

During formal talks at the Foreign Office, the two sides discussed a wide range of issues from bilateral cooperation to the regional and international situation, particularly in Afghanistan and Syria.

The Saudi foreign minister told reporters that Afghanistan was coming to a ‘turning point’ in the wake of US-led Nato forces’ withdrawal from the war-torn country. He said both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia urged the Afghan people to set aside their petty differences and think about the larger interest of the country.

He said both the countries wanted no forces to exploit the possible vacuum created in Afghanistan as a result of the drawdown. He said efforts should be made to prevent Afghanistan from slipping into civil war.

Saudi Arabia is upset over the lack of action from Western powers against President Bashar al Assad’s regime. The Saudi foreign minister said all parties must sit together to put in place a consensus government in Syria. “Bashar al Assad has no right to kill people,” he added.

Recently, US Foreign Policy magazine claimed that Riyadh after having lost faith in the Obama administration to oust the Assad regime has begun major initiatives with Pakistan to train Syrian insurgents.

In response to a question, Sartaj Aziz said the two countries would discuss defence cooperation soon but refused to comment on the report.

“The visit of Prince Saud al Faisal, foreign minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a special significance in our bilateral relations,” Aziz said in his opening remarks at the news conference.  He said the two countries focused on further cooperation in investment, trade, energy and export of  manpower from Pakistan.

According to a Foreign Office statement, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif informed the Saudi foreign minister about his government’s plans to enhance growth, create jobs and reduce poverty to create a brighter future for the people of Pakistan.

He encouraged the Saudi businessmen to benefit from the conducive business environment in Pakistan. “Saudi Arabia’s positive contribution to support Pakistan’s endeavour for economic development is deeply appreciated. There is a mutual desire to further intensify economic interaction in the years ahead.”

It was agreed that the Joint Economic Council of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would meet within the next two months to further enhance bilateral cooperation in various fields.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Jan 8, 2014 - 3:13AM

    The senior diplomat could have rescheduled his visit.
    Countries are not waiting in line to extend invitations,
    to visit them. He knew there will be speculations etc.
    Yet, he chose to come.

    Recommend

  • Aysha M
    Jan 8, 2014 - 4:40AM

    World of glamour: we are just good friends
    World of politics: its their internal matter

    We are not a soverign country who are you fooling.

    Recommend

  • polpot
    Jan 8, 2014 - 6:05AM

    “He said both the countries wanted no forces to exploit the possible vacuum created in Afghanistan as a result of the drawdown.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Wonder who has been exploiting the situation in Afghanistan in the past ?

    Recommend

  • paki
    Jan 8, 2014 - 7:07AM

    Saudi Arabia is a time test friend, it alway helped at the time of need and million of Pakistani working there are source of huge amount of foreign exchange to our country. long live Saudi-pak friendship.

    Recommend

  • Xnain
    Jan 8, 2014 - 8:27AM

    @Aysha M:
    Quite disappointed that Saudis didn’t come to help?
    Well they actually asked Musharraf not to go to Pakistan but the commando sahib were flying high on praises like you do and Facebook million fan pages. Its quite ironic that now you people get anxious for him but when he landed in Karachi no more than just 150 odd people were there to receive him. At least MQM should have shown some loyalty and recognition to the man who made them what they are today i.e. Musharraf. But your party has a history of backstabbing those who made it, so nevermind.

    Recommend

  • Chuuba
    Jan 8, 2014 - 8:29AM

    @Aysha M:
    You should be happy it wasn’t the internal minister of UK….samagh to gayee he hongi :D

    Recommend

  • Jan 8, 2014 - 8:42AM

    In between the mask of a smile and the rhetoric of Afghanistan and brotherly relations, a lot is remains unspoken. Indeed a very convenient time to talk business when the court is about to read Musharraf the riot act. Salams

    Recommend

  • Maqsood
    Jan 8, 2014 - 9:45AM

    “Principle of non-interference”, ha ha ha. What happened and where did the PRINCIPLE go when they ‘interfered’ and bailed Nawaz Sharif out ???
    “Absolutely not. I’ve just talked about the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, especially friendly countries,”

    Recommend

  • Arindom
    Jan 8, 2014 - 10:43AM

    Saudi Foreign Minister saying, they “do not interfere in internal matters of other countries”?! THAT made me laugh!

    Recommend

  • excalibur
    Jan 8, 2014 - 12:18PM

    Speculations are being made by all those who are scared of Musharraf’s presence in Pakistan.
    They are cleverly maniplulating as if Musharraf wants to ask for any bailout as NS did asking for mercy when convicted of Aircraft hijacking and then signed an agrreement to get lost for 10 years but subsequently even lied that there was any agreement as such,

    Musharraf has a noble and strong characterRecommend

  • Kamil
    Jan 8, 2014 - 12:35PM

    Kindly leave us alone “brothers”

    Recommend

  • Aysha M
    Jan 8, 2014 - 4:09PM

    @Xnain:
    Not at all disappointed.
    Men in Pakistan cant even make a cup of tea themselves and this person pulled off treason all by himself. This height of injustice will be redressed by Him not looking out for Saudis or the kind NZ went crying to.
    As far as MQM is concerned they do not support the farcical trial which begins from nov 3, and not from the beginning from Oct 1999. So no point in bringing MQM into it

    Recommend

  • unbelievable
    Jan 8, 2014 - 7:29PM

    Recently, US Foreign Policy magazine
    claimed that Riyadh after having lost
    faith in the Obama administration to
    oust the Assad regime has begun major
    initiatives with Pakistan to train
    Syrian insurgents.

    Hopefully Pakistan is smart enough to avoid that – any atrocities committed by these Jihadist will be blamed on Pakistan which will only enhance your reputation as Jihad Central.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jan 8, 2014 - 11:42PM

    If the KSA practised what it preaches, it would be good for both countries.

    Recommend

  • Faisal
    Jan 9, 2014 - 9:00AM

    @ayesha M. I just made a cup of tea for myself

    Recommend

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